Wednesday, July 05, 2006

When state lotteries meet a bad court system

This is something I've been meaning to blog about, so forgive that I "catch up" on slightly stale news from time to time. An Indiana man forgot to collect the $5 prize from a $2 lottery ticket, so he filed a lawsuit, and the state lottery director decided to settle with him for $15,000 instead of wasting more money on a legal defense.

Such a complaint against a private company would normally be restricted to small claims court. However, since this involves the state government, Indiana law likely bumps it automatically to superior court. (I already oppose state lotteries, and this mess only reinforces my belief that they're a bad way to raise revenue.) Then get a shyster attorney (usually redundant) to give your suit class action status, and you can bully a defendant with deep pockets into a settlement. Furthermore, it's too easy for Schneider to settle. It's not her money.

This is precisely why more states need laws allowing defendants to recover legal expenses for frivolous lawsuits. When I worked tech support at a few companies, we were regularly threatened by customers who were clearly in the wrong. One twit bought the cheapest laptop, immediately called up and accused us of bait and switch (because the series was being discontinued), then practically bragged to me how he would get us to give him a free upgrade to "the biggest and best" model. And he got it. It was cheaper to give in to his BS than to spend thousands of dollars for a verdict in our favor.

My previous entries on stupid lawsuits:
More nails in the coffin of private property rights
Another contender for stupidest lawsuit ever
Possibly the two stupidest lawsuits ever

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